Tolstoy and Theatre

Nicholas Quirke was finishing his day organising some emergency practical home matters. It wasn’t how he anticipated spending time away, but he was grateful to the army of family and friends who helped him to solve this minor crisis and it did mean he got to speak with them. Despite the issues, he managed to have more leisurely day. He had planned to go inside the Kremlin but the queues were infuriatingly long and he decided to take a walk instead. Though it was a milder temperature, three degrees, it was a decidedly damper day, gloomy, drizzle and grey. Though the greyNess probable had more to do with the many large chimneys pumping out acrid smoke into the atmosphere and seemingly over the iconic stand out buildings than jut cloudy. it was hard to see what was smoke and what was cloud the pollution seemed so bad. Lessons need to be learned in Eastern Europe. This subsequently made his walk along the river less pleasant than it should have been. He discovered a series of eight outstanding churches all in a row running alongside a modern parkland which instructed Everyone, over tannoys, to not smoke, not drop litter, or drink and not to have ‘Sad Faces’! He lunched at the now familiar Flora not Fauna and then went back to the hotel to freshen up before his trip to the theatre. What an extraordinary experience, It was wonderful to be in a theatre steeped in such a rich history, a theatre where Chekov made his name, seeing a production of a Tolstoy play. It was fascinating to see that the theatre staged a different play every day and the plays had been running in repertory for years, the production he was seeing, Kriester’s Sonata, had its opening night on 2nd December 2008. The staging was wonderful, simple, effective, the set and costumes all in black and white, the actors present and sounding commanding and from their physicality he got some idea as to what was happening in the story but it was like being a detective looking for the clues and trying to workout what was happening. Hard work. He enjoyed a human drama in the audience before the play began where a couple seated on the front row were moved out of them by the usher to seat the people with tickets. It still left a seat on the aisle free and the lady from the couple stood and hovered. Suddenly the man just moved in and sat down and an argument began. He was compelled tom capture the moment on camera. Despite an announcement in Russian that even he understood to be, ‘Turn off your phones. Don’t take photographs, he was surrounded by people who not only texted during the performance but did indeed take photographs. He found himself policing the audience around him and rebuking them, much to their disgust. The curtain call was a joy to behold with the actors being presented with flowers by audience members. It was a treat and insight into Russian theatre going and for the reverence with which this theatre, which was packed, is held. Nicholas was moving on the next day and at the hotel began packing. The next stage of his journey would take him on a train for 5 days and it was likely that there would be no WiFi available and meant that he would not be able to publish his updates. It would be like going the dark side of the moon. he was well prepared with novels and work to do. Looking forward to a period off grid he went to sleep.



  1. Good to see you experienced the theatre. I can’t get over the size of The Kremlin, I had no idea! Enjoy your next journey, looking forward to the next update! x

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